'Proud And Humbled' Dame Barbara Windsor Leads New Year's Honours List

Veteran actress Barbara Windsor has said she is "so very honoured, proud and extremely humbled" to be awarded a damehood in the New Year's Honours.

She is one of a host of stars of stage and screen to be recognised in the list, including fellow east Londoner turned Hollywood star Idris Elba, who said receiving an OBE made him "beyond proud".

Celebrated thespian Sian Phillips was also made a dame, while Imelda Staunton received a CBE, and actors David Oyelowo and James Nesbitt got OBEs.

Sporting stars were also well represented, with a knighthood for champion jockey Tony McCoy, former motorsports star John Surtees and footballers Denis Law and Francis Lee receiving CBEs, and two-times Tour de France winner cyclist Chris Froome and snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan handed OBEs.

Windsor, who first appeared on stage at the tender age of 13 before rising to fame in the Carry On films, was recognised for services to charity and entertainment.

She said: "For a girl from the East End born into a working class family and an evacuee during World War Two, this is truly like a dream. I am so happy and blessed to say it's real."

After achieving fame in cult crime drama The Wire, Elba has gone on to star in blockbusters such as Prometheus, and took the lead as Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The actor, who was brought up in Hackney, east London, and has a Sierra Leonean father and Ghanaian mother, said: "Awards and honours come in all shapes and sizes and all as significant as the other but this is beyond special, as it comes from Queen and country and I couldn't be more proud for receiving this right now, what a year... On me head son!"

Nesbitt, who was recognised for services to acting and to Northern Ireland following years of work helping families affected by the Troubles, said: "I've been very blessed with my work and very blessed to come from Northern Ireland and for those two things to be on the citation was really rather gratifying."

Sports commentator Sue Barker received an OBE, while sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, who became the first female commentator on Match Of The Day, was awarded an MBE.

Other prominent names to be recognised include celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne, who got a knighthood along with former TV journalist Martyn Lewis, who was recognised for his charity work.

The music industry was represented by Damon Albarn, who since shooting to fame with Blur in the early 90s, has enjoyed success with several other acts and receives an OBE, while an MBE has been awarded to Clifford Price - more commonly known as Goldie - for his contribution to the music, TV and film industry and his work with a number of charities. He said he "ran to the arts, because the arts are the one thing that would never abandon me".

As in other years, the honours list has been beset by leaks, with Windsor and McCoy named as recipients some days ago, while controversy over a knighthood for Lynton Crosby, David Cameron's general election strategist, also hit the headlines.

The list sees several leading business figures awarded for their efforts in boosting the UK economy, including damehoods for easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall and the founder of high fashion website Net-A-Porter Natalie Massenet, while Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold receives the CBE.

Many Britons were celebrated for their efforts in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, including a knighthood for Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical lead in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, who treated nurses Pauline Cafferkey, Will Pooley and Anna Cross.

CBEs also go to Dr Timothy Brooks, head of the Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory at Public Health England, and Professor Christopher Bulstrode, Emeritus Professor at Green Templeton College, Oxford, and volunteer for Doctors of the World, while Grace Jackson, Sierra Leone Programme Manager at the Department for International Development (DFID) gets an OBE.

Many more were recognised for their work in helping others, including philanthropists Clive Cowdery, who founded the Resolution Foundation in 2005 and receives a knighthood alongside Jack Petchey, who has contributed more than £100 million since he established his foundation in 1999, which benefits young people in east London and Essex.

The New Year's Honour list 2016 saw a total of 1,196 people receive an award, more than three quarters of whom are recognised for outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or paid capacity.

Among them is Jonjo Heuerman, who at 13 is the youngest recipient on this list and received the British Empire Medal (BEM) after raising £250,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund at Cancer Research UK.

The eldest is 99-year-old Dorothy Start, who was honoured in recognition of more than half a century of committed community work in Friern Barnet in Hertfordshire. Also receiving a BEM was Richard Tyler, who was in charge of the Red Cross Team during the Shoreham Airshow disaster, in which 11 people were killed in August. Falklands veteran and tireless charity campaigner Simon Weston saw his OBE upgraded to CBE.

More than one in 20 (5.7%) of those on the list come from ethnic minority communities, while 7.5% consider themselves to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Just under half (48%) of those recognised were women, although the list saw a significant rise in the proportion of awards to women at senior levels, at 38% compared to 31% in the 2015 Birthday Honours.

Other women to receive top accolades include damehoods for Judith Hackitt, chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Glenys Stacey, chief executive of exams regulator Ofqual, and Heather Rabbatts, non-executive director of the Football Association (FA).

A number of entrepreneurs were awarded, including a CBE for Pets at Home founder Anthony Preston, an OBE for Amanda Boyle, founder of crowd funding platform Bloom, and an MBE for Alison Lewy, the founder of Fashion Angel, which offers business mentoring, training and access to funding to new and established fashion businesses.

There were many honours for people working in health and education, including 10 awards for nurses at MBE level.

Professor Margaret Whitehead, head of Public Health and Policy at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, was made a dame, as was Professor Lesley Fallowfield, director of Sussex Health Outcomes Research and Education in Cancer at the University of Sussex, while Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, was knighted.

Around one in 10 honours are for work in education, including 26 head teachers.

Susan Jowett, chief executive of the Spencer Academies Trust, received a damehood, while Steve Lancashire, founder of REAch2, the largest primary academy sponsor in the country, Dr David Collins, the first Further Education (FE) Commissioner, responsible for driving improvement and acting quickly to tackle failing colleges, and Professor Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor of City University, London, were all knighted.

There are also a number of awards for services to Second World War commemoration, including Agnes Grunwald-Spier, trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), who received an MBE, while Ivor Perl, an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor who has been working with the HMD Trust in local communities, received a BEM.

In politics, former Lib Dem MP Ed Davey, who was Energy Secretary under the Coalition Government, was knighted along with Paul Grice, clerk and chief executive of Scottish Parliament, while Labour's Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central and Opposition Chief Whip, received a damehood.

In addition to the honours recipients, this year saw three new additions to the Order of Merit (OM), which is the personal gift of the Queen.

The OM went to Lord Darzi for medicine, Professor Dame Ann Dowling for mechanical engineering, and Sir James Dyson for his work in industrial design.

Awarded to individuals for great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science, there can be a total of only 24 OMs at any one time, making it a highly-exclusive collection of members.

Previous recipients include Florence Nightingale and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as honorary members Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.